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Cablegate: Usau: African Union, Uneca Hold Partners Dialogue

VZCZCXRO2362
PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMA RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN RUEHTRO
DE RUEHDS #2902/01 3441012
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 101012Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7103
INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RUEWMFD/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE PRIORITY
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 7990
RUEPADJ/CJTF HOA PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ADDIS ABABA 002902

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/FO, AF/RSA, IO/UNP
LONDON FOR PLORD
PARIS FOR WBAIN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL UN AU
SUBJECT: USAU: AFRICAN UNION, UNECA HOLD PARTNERS DIALOGUE
WITH DONORS

THIS MESSAGE IS FROM USAU AMBASSADOR MICHAEL A. BATTLE.

1. (U) SUMMARY: From December 1-2, the AU and UNECA hosted a
Partners Dialogue in Addis Ababa, bringing together 15 donor
nations and other entities to discuss how to create a more
strategic and equitable partnership between the AU/ECA and
donors. Key themes that emerged included: the need for a
strong Africa that engages in the broader global community;
the desire to move from a donor-recipient dynamic to genuine
partnership with a range of donors; financing mechanisms and
the controversial option of budget support; and the vital
importance of supporting regional integration and a
continental vision. Conference participants reiterated their
support for the AU and its initiatives, though precise
mechanisms for implementing this support were not agreed
upon. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) The African Union (AU) and the UN Economic Commission
for Africa (ECA) held the first Partners Dialogue (previously
called the Donor Support Group) in Addis Ababa from December
1-2. Fifteen donor nations participated, along with
representatives from the European Union (EU), World Bank,
African Development Bank, and New Partnership for Africa's
Development (NEPAD). The need for a strong Africa that
participates actively in the global community emerged as one
of the conference's key themes, addressed by both AU
Commission Chairperson Jean Ping and ECA Executive Secretary
Abdoulie Janneh, as well as others. Janneh noted that Africa
should have a say in international solutions to global
problems such as climate change, governance, and peace and
security issues. Consequently, he recommended that Africa be
involved in international fora and become a recognized member
of the Group of 20 (G-20).

3. (U) As the conference title suggests, the nature of the AU
and ECA's partnership with donors was another key theme. The
conference included sessions for the AU to present its
strategic plan and for ECA to share its business plan, with
the idea that this exercise would symbolize a turning point
in donor relations by unveiling clear priorities upfront
rather than allowing them to be donor-driven. Many donor
nation representatives reiterated their support for the AU's
priorities, and underscored the need to move from a
donor-recipient dynamic to a genuine partnership based on
mutual benefit and trust.

4. (SBU) Several speakers brought up the value of linking
assistance to a country's comparative advantage. As
examples, AU Commissioner for Economic Affairs Maxwell
Mkwezalamba cited China's focus on infrastructure and India's
on Information Communication Technology (ICT), an interesting
comment given that neither country was present. Following
the conference, several participants noted that certain
donors were conspicuously absent, notably China, South Korea,
and India. In a subsequent meeting of AU partners, Portugal
indicated its annoyance at not having been invited to
participate in the conference. Clearly, the Partners
Dialogue not only raised the issue of the nature of AU/ECA
partnerships with donors, but also of whom the donor category
should include.

5. (SBU) In discussing partner cooperation, the issue of
financing arose repeatedly. Certain countries, including
Norway, Denmark, and the United Kingdom (UK), would like to
move from project support to untied program and budget
support, and they urge others to do the same. They argue
that this approach lowers transaction costs, increases
efficiency, and allows the African Union Commission (AUC) to
have a flexible, yet predictable budget. Many nations,
however, registered their apprehension, including Japan,
Italy, and Finland, which wants to see proof of the AU's
financial management accountability before considering such a
measure. Due to internal regulations and funding mechanisms,
partners such as Canada, the U.S., and the World Bank cannot
agree to budget support at this time. AUC Deputy Chairperson
Erastus Mwencha acknowledged that the AU is not ready to move
to budget support yet in any case, as his organization does
not have the human resources or administrative capacity to
manage it.

6. (U) The importance of regional integration and AU/ECA
collaboration with Africa's Regional Economic Communities
(RECs) emerged as another key conference theme. Participants

ADDIS ABAB 00002902 002 OF 002


agreed that RECs have a vital role to play in peace and
security issues, trade, infrastructure development, and
virtually all pan-African initiatives. Both Ping and Janneh
spoke of the need for a continental vision that can be
drilled down to regional and national levels. They noted
that the EU was one of the few organizations engaged in
long-standing partnerships with regional bodies, and
encouraged partners to embrace a regional approach. (Note:
Ping lauded the U.S. for its Peace and Security support,
noting that the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) would not have
survived without it. End Note.)
MUSHINGI

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